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The Impact of Education Policies on Socioeconomic Inequality in Student Achievement: A Review of Comparative Studies.

Chapter in book
Authors Rolf Strietholt
Jan-Eric Gustafsson
Nina Hogrebe
Victoria Rolfe
Monica Rosén
Isa Steinmann
Kajsa Yang Hansen
Published in Education Policy & Social Inequality, vol 4.
Pages 17-38
ISBN 978-981-13-9862-9
ISSN 2520-1476
Publisher Springer Nature
Place of publication Singapore
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Education and Special Education
Pages 17-38
Language en
Keywords Student achievement, Socioeconomic status, Inequality, Comparative analysis
Subject categories Educational Sciences, Pedagogy


This chapter reviews international comparative studies on the determinants of socioeconomic inequality in student performance. We were interested in studies of explanatory variables that are amenable to educational policy interventions. To identify such publications, we developed a comprehensive search strategy and conducted an electronic search based on six databases. We also manually searched two existing hand-picked reviews. After duplicates were removed, the search resulted in 814 references, of which a total of 35 studies met the eligibility criteria. The included studies investigated diverse topics such as learning environments inside and outside of school, educational expenditure, teacher education, autonomy, accountability, differentiation, and competition from private schools. Most studies are descriptive in nature and their findings are sometimes ambiguous. Despite these limitations, we tentatively conclude that the opportunity of choice reinforces inequality. Measures that target social selection can be effective.

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